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NCAA 97: Benson, Gozum lead CSB rout of Lyceum for bounce back win


Ailing AJ Benson still provided the push as season host De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde fended off the challenge of Lyceum of the Philippines University taking a 79-65 in the NCAA Season 97 Seniors Basketball Tournament, Tuesday at La Salle Greenhills’ St. Benilde Gym in Mandaluyong City.

The Fil-American winger, who is nursing a right hamstring injury and was listed as probable at the start of the game, provided the energy to turn it around for the Blazers against the gallant stand from the Pirates.

With the season hosts staring at a 27-32 deficit with 4:14 left in the first half, Benson and Carlo Lim made the Lyceum Pirates pay for the lost opportunity to extend the advantage and instead took the lead for the Blazers at 33-32.

Lim saw himself with a free lane and went straight to the cup for the layup to cut the deficit to three, 29-32. Benson, then, finished two fastbreak opportunities off Lim’s deliveries as they snatched the advantage once more with 2:50 minutes left in the first half.

Lyceum had all the chances to get back into the game after getting to as close as four, 50-54, at the end of the third with a buzzer-beating Larupay putback off an Enoch Valdez miss.

Nonetheless, the Blazers would not be denied a finishing kick in the pay-off canto. Benson found Cullar on the break to put the game away for good, 70-61, at the 4:51 mark; and he then saw Will Gozum attacking the basket, 72-63, 2:30 left in the game.

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With the game out of reach, Nayve drained a dagger three to set the biggest lead of the contest at the final buzzer.

Head coach Charles Tiu welcomed the win but hopes that the Blazers will build on this.

“Feels nice to get the win but it’s just one game. I’m a guy who never really gets too high or too low, but I’m very grateful that we won,” he said.

Despite seeing limited minutes — 17 minutes to be exact — Benson still ended with an inspired performance of 11 points, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal.

A pair of former NCAA juniors standouts Ralph Nayve and Will Gozum also bounced back from a previous setback in the first game.

Ralph Nayve paced all scorers with 17 points but also had three assists, a rebound, and a steal. The guard was limited to seven markers and four boards and made two turnovers.

Meanwhile, Gozum had a breakout performance in his first win in the NCAA seniors division with 11 points, eight rebounds, and a block. The former juniors’ MVP just had eight points, four rebounds, and a block, in his debut in a Blazers uniform.

Valdez led the charge for Lyceum with 13 points, grabbing eight rebounds, dishing four assists, and adding two steals.

The Pirates’ frontcourt of Shawn Umali and Yancy Remulla was held off in the second half as the former ended with 11 points, four rebounds, two blocks, and one steal; while the latter added 10 points, eight rebounds, and one assist.

CSB (1-1) will look to build on this maiden win when they face the Justin Arana-less Arellano University (1-0) on Saturday, April 2 at 12 p.m. On the other hand, LPU (0-2) will attempt a breakthrough victory as they take on Emilio Aguinaldo College (0-1) later in the day at 3 p.m.

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The Scores:

CSB 79 – Nayve 17, Gozum 15, Cullar 11, Benson 11, Marcos 9, Corteza 4, Publico 3, Lim 2, Davis 2, Sangco 2, Lepalam 2, Flores 1, Carlos 0, Mosqueda 0.

LPU 65 – Valdez 13, Umali 11, Remulla 10, Guadana 7, Barba 7, Larupay 6, Guinto 6, Cunanan 4, Navarro 2, Abadeza 2, Garro 0, Jabel 0, Bravo 0.

Quarterscores: 20-20, 37-36, 54-50, 79-65

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.


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